“The Costs of Climate Change”
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Daniel Hirschman, Associate Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Brown University.
Co-sponsored by the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University.
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Sheila Jasanoff, Faculty Associate. Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Harvard Kennedy School.
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Please note: This event requires registration by noon on Friday, November 20 to receive the meeting link and password.
How much will climate change cost? How will we know? In this talk, I outline preliminary results from a new research project on the role of economic experts in constructing climate change as a social problem. Most prior STS research on climate change has focused on natural scientists, from the technical underpinnings of climate data to public controversies over the basic facts of climate change sustained by fossil fuel industry campaigns. These dynamics have produced a tendency among natural scientists towards "erring on the side of least drama" (Brysse et al 2013), downplaying the possibility of extreme negative events. In turn, I argue that climate economics has doubled down on this tendency, building "least drama" economic models atop already truncated climate models that project minimal aggregate damages from levels of warming seen as catastrophic by most natural scientists. I document these trends in the IPCC Assessment Reports and their reception.
Daniel Hirschman is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Brown University. He studies the politics of numbers, especially economic ones. His prior work has looked at debates over the quantification of race and merit in undergraduate admissions, the deregulation of financial derivatives, and the history of national income accounting. He is currently finishing a book on the "stylized facts" of inequality, which traces the histories on the gender wage gap, the racial wealth gap, and top income inequality to show the importance of quantitative description in shaping public debate and academic research. He tweets @asociologist and blogs at scatterplot.